Student Interview$0 to $7.6k/mo

Preston Zeller

  • Three, two, one. Hey everyone, Harry here. Today, I have Preston Zeller. I'm gonna be talking about how Preston went from zero to $7,600 in sales at about 60 days with his commemorative grief art. So before we get too far into it, Preston, why don't I turn it over to you? Can you just introduce yourself and share with everybody a little bit about you and what you do?

  • Yeah, sure. So I am fine art painter. I specialize in working with people who have lost somebody through death of course and are going through grief and that process, and so yeah, as Harry was saying, I help them work through that grief by doing commemorative artwork for the person they lost, and often times, it's using ashes as well, so yeah, that's kind of a special part of it.

  • What do you think, I mean that in itself sounds very unique, but what else, is there anything else you feel like makes you guys unique?

  • Yeah, I mean, so I went through a, my own kind of like loss of somebody, so I lost my brother in 2019, and six months later, I decided to embark on this year-long project of painting for a year, so I was gonna paint every day for a year to work through my own grief experience, and that was kinda, the idea was kinda born out of this hypothesis I had from an art show I had that using my own art and sharing that experience was like, it was cathartic for me, but also allowed a way for me to connect with people, and when you share stories, and in the grief space, I found particularly, when I'm sharing my story of loss, people would go oh, okay, they would share their own grief, or at least they would have some kind of emotional connection, so I went through that process for myself, and then I created a documentary around it called "The Art of Grieving," and so that, all that kinda stuff combined, it really threw me into the grief space in a very authentic way, and I was doing my, a lot of my own self work, and out of that, out of the actual last painting of the 365, I used my brother's ashes in a painting, and that sort of sparked this idea, and other people would see this painting in this whole mosaic 'cause they're all put together, and they were really kind of attracted to that idea of ashes in a painting, and I kinda joked around about doing that for other people, but then I started realizing, I'm like oh, this is a real need that I think people have, and I started getting deeper into that niche and that mindset. I'm like oh, it's definitely a real need. So yeah.

  • That's incredible, yeah, I'd heard, I knew you had done this documentary but that's the first I've kind of really heard a lot about it. Is that, so is that something that's publicly available? Can people see that right now or is it, where can people find that?

  • Yeah, so it's, we're basically in negotiation with distributors right now, in the way that most films are kinda sold and distributed, so we're hoping to secure a date for like late spring to be publicly released, but I've really been actually selectively sharing a private link with people as I've been talking to them, which has been a very interesting, very elaborate form of one of these types of interviews, but in this narrative way, 'cause there's a lot of kind of grifters in this space, of people who have GoFundMe pages and I've actually found this out when I'm in different Facebook groups and whatnot, but people will pop up and be like, oh, I have a GoFundMe 'cause I lost so-and-so, and--

  • Oh wow, I hadn't even though about that, but that doesn't surprise me.

  • Yeah, I mean there's kind of snakes in every kinda niche out there, and I even had a call, a studio session with a guy who was like, "Well you know, I," he was just skeptical, and I'm like, "Hey, I have a documentary," and he had watched other interviews of me, I'm like, "I have a documentary, why don't you just watch that "and that'll kinda give you the nitty-gritty of my story," and everyone who's watched that right away comes back, but the other assets have been really helpful as well, so it's kind of a weird thing that I have that, that kind of asset, but everything's kinda been really helpful and just help, sharing about who I am.

  • Well that's cool, I'm just more curious about, yeah, that, definitely let me know when it's live in a few months.

  • Yeah, no, yeah, for sure will, I'm gonna be shouting it from the rooftop, so.

  • Nice. Well let's kinda go back to the beginning. We got started together middle of November. What were you working on back in early November, October, what were you trying to tackle at the time?

  • Yeah, so I actually, I was on a sabbatical from work, and so my kinda career up to last summer, I had been in the tech space for like 12 years, and so I was in digital marketing, and I had actually, I just got to this point where I'm like, I'm ready to just be done with this part of my career, and I was sorta wrapping up the documentary side of things, and I knew that the documentary kinda marked this culmination point for me, and wanting to figure out how to sort of shape my skillset around an offering for people, I wasn't really sure how to do that, and I had actually, I, in that sabbatical time, I was really taking a moment to think about how I evolve my art business, 'cause I had other kinda things I was doing before that, into something that felt a lot more meaningful, and so then I came across your process, and I, just due to my background, I know you know this 'cause you're in tech, right, you become aware of a lot of mainstream sort of sales ideas and eCommerce and all these kinds of modern, really technologically advanced things, and it's easy to get fixated on that, and that's kinda what I did, and I got to the point where I'm like, well this isn't working. It's--

  • Tell me more, like what sort of concretely, like what sort of art business things were you trying back then?

  • Yeah, so I had, I actually, this was part of my strategy, is that I priced my originals quite a bit higher, like five to $10,000, and then would sell prints or list prints for 100 to $200, so almost with the originals as this price decoy. Yeah, like a decoy.

  • Yeah, and so that actually worked to some degree, but it certainly wasn't as lucrative as I wanted it to be, and then out of, when I was doing the year of painting, I had basically like 365 designs more or less too if I wanted to translate it, so I started a clothing company, and I'm actually wearing one of the prototype jackets from that, and so it was all different kinda home goods and wearables with my artwork on it, but it still didn't really connect, it didn't connect to something that I was, that I had this passionate through line, and the problem with prints is that's a volume game in a massive way, and it's just, it commoditizes your artwork too much, at least at this stage in the game, and so I just got to that point where I'm like yeah, I need to take a step back and kinda reassess everything and see what is a good next step.

  • So you were doing, you had merch, clothes, did you have anything else besides clothes that you were putting your art on?

  • Oh yeah, I had wall clocks, I had pillows, I had, oh guy, I tried not to get too off the wall with it, but yeah, so some random home goods and then a lot of different kinda wearable stuff, yeah, and it was like all all-over print types things.

  • And then you had your prints, was there anything else that you were experimenting with?

  • Those are really primarily it. I also, so niche-wise, I was also targeting the sort of corporate art buyer niche, 'cause when I started really trying to learn what artists do to sell their artwork, I looked at, I actually, I was, in a very short span, I went to a variety of cities that have a lot of major art galleries or streets with lots of art galleries type of deal, and I was walking into these art galleries and just feeling like, what a sham they are. And I say that, because they are so centered around being the gatekeeper of an artist's success, and that just didn't really click with me, and especially, you'd walk into them, and it's just a strange vibe, galleries are, and I respect that there are artists who have made a lot of money, but I remember talking to this one woman who was at an art gallery, and it was all, it was in Scottsdale, Arizona, it was all Western art, and she was talking about how this one guy, really famous, had art there, like 30, $40,000 on the wall. Now this dude drove like three states across to deliver, hand-deliver his artwork every time he had new stuff, and I'm just like, what a weird way to be business, is I have to drive 1,000 miles to the gallery to deliver my work, so anyways, I looked at all that and I'm like, wait a second, there's corporate art buyers, which is still a viable niche, and I was thinking about getting into that, but again, it's like, it didn't provide this through line of what I had been working on and what I was passionate about, and I am very much, I have to enjoy the process. I can't just do some random thing and only enjoy the outcome, so.

  • Yeah. So hearing you say all that, it's like, it seems like you had almost like four different irons in the fire. You had the print, the merch, corporate buyers and potentially galleries, so I know it's hard, but try to go back to the time, what sort of frustrations were you feeling? Was it just, share a bit about what sort of challenges you had with all that.

  • Yeah, well galleries, and I had a gallery show here recently, and I remember people, I think I had the most expensive artwork in this whole place, I remember people, I was kinda like secret shopping people, and they were all just walking around this art gallery just scoffing at prices, and I'm like, you know, I don't blame them because why would you just walk into a gallery, unless it's some really hoity-toity gallery and you're just, have a gob of money to spend, but a lot of times, people are a known quantity in galleries. We're somewhat--

  • What do you mean? Like the artist knows, people know who the artist is?

  • The artist is known, right? Like someone's a real artist connoisseur and they're like oh, I know this guy's art, or they're dead. That's another weird thing, I met, I went to San Antonio and met a guy, he's like, "I'm the largest broker in dead people art." And I'm like, well that's kind of tragic, you know? The family donate--

  • How does that help you and me among the living?

  • Yeah, I mean maybe their family makes some coin off that, but, so anyways, the galleries, I just, I was never really attracted to that. Prints is a kinda--

  • Preston. I was just,

  • What's up?

  • I wanted to ask you real quick, I know, it's just, I'm curious about your opinion, I know it's just one person's opinion, but I don't know what the answer is to this, but with the galleries, did you get a feeling that you had to already kind of be famous or well-known or successful to some degree to have the gallery be a viable channel for you or do you feel like there are some artists that would be undiscovered that would come up through these galleries and be successful?

  • You know, I think with galleries, it's like a stupid game of hard to get. In fact, I had a friend of mine here who has a background in sales, and for, just for kicks one time, we went into a gallery and I had him pretend to be my agent, and I just didn't really say much. I had him just kinda blather on about me, just to see if it was of more appeal, and it definitely felt like they took us more seriously, 'cause otherwise, you gotta imagine, there's so many artists who are like, who walk into galleries and they're like, hey, do you work with artists? And unless it's probably like a very local art gallery, they're gonna be like no. They're gonna want you to, they're gonna wanna discover you, versus you coming to them, and unless you came in with some Excel sheet that was like, hey, I just sold a bunch of pieces for $10,000, they wouldn't care. So yeah,

  • Interesting.

  • that's my theory there.

  • And so what about the, you were getting onto the, I think the prints for a second.

  • Yeah, prints are tough because they are a, like I was saying, they're a volume game, so, and I kinda--

  • You made some sales but not that much?

  • Yeah, I even opened up a full Amazon store, and did some, I did advertising on Amazon, did advertising on Facebook, definitely had multitude of advertising stuff, and advertising has a place for sure, but I think most people don't realize advertising is a heavy awareness. You're gonna spend a lot of money on awareness if you are not a known quantity, and it's less of people buying usually from those types of ads, and then the wearables front, I knew that that was gonna be like, I gotta get Kanye West to wear a jacket, something like that, and the people who did buy stuff, they were like, this stuff is great, I get compliments all the time, what are you doing to get this out there? And that was just kind of a light bulb of like, okay, if I really wanted to build a clothing brand, and that was my jam, then maybe, sure, but I just realized it wasn't. I'm like most artists where I've had this myopic view at times where you just think whatever you put out is so great and people are gonna just wanna buy it because--

  • It just fully, people will flock to it.

  • Yeah, you have this stupid "Field of Dreams" mentality about it, and it just is not like that.

  • It's all good, it's part of, again, starting with anything, but I think, yeah, I think a lot of people don't realize, for all the lower ticket options, how easy they make it to set up your store and add the item and all that stuff, all that stuff's easy, but then the actual marketing and distribution is orders of magnitude harder than anything else, or it's predicated on you already being famous, or yeah, having a celebrity endorsement or something like that.

  • And I had done, by the way, I've sold photography, I've been a musician, and all these different types of things, so I've sold a lot of different types of art and whatnot or tried to sell a lot of different types of art, and you just realize there's some dynamic to it that is beyond, hey look at me, I make stuff, you know?

  • Yeah, yeah, exactly. So let's scooch ahead, tell me, how did you first hear about us? Do you remember?

  • Yeah, I actually came across you guys in an advertisement on Instagram, and I'm, my BS radar is super high. Just, always feels like that because, yeah, I mean I've tried a lot of different things, and I didn't want some rehash of what I'd seen before, and so yeah, I came across you guys and started really kinda researching you and some of what was, you guys were doing, and I appreciated the approach.

  • What do you think piqued your interest as you were doing your initial research?

  • I've looked at lots of different types of whatever over the year. I will, sometimes I will even look at people's sort of methods if you will, just to see what it is, and then I compare that with my own experiences of course, and I think what, you obviously have a lot of case studies and whatnot which is good, and I think your approach to the mentality of artwork and the value of it was really appealing, because again, there are no shortage of books and white papers from successful artists, and people who've become successful and you're like, you're not even really sure how they got successful, and that's part of that hard thing, and of course because they are successful, they can come out with a book and probably anyone'll read it, right? And I've tried some of those things, and I tried it, and this just doesn't really click. I don't think they're providing their path for success, they're just providing some weird insights after the fact, but it doesn't really explain the roadmap.

  • I call those CEO books, the CEO books.

  • Right, yeah, CEO, right, yeah.

  • And they write it after they've been successful but they maybe are so removed from the actual trenches of what they did that they've forgotten, or they're only giving you a slice that they think is what kind of positions them in the most favorable light. It's manicured in some way, but those, I know what you're talking about.

  • Well you know, one thing I appreciated was, of course, the value side of things, right? I mean most artists don't understand I think the problem they're solving with their artwork, and it's easy to revert to this, oh, I'm gonna price things per square inch or linear inch or that kind of thing, which I think about after the fact, I'm like, what a silly way to price things, 'cause you're not addressing any kind of problem with that pricing, you are simply saying you have a real estate-based model I guess, and if, even if you look at real estate, an acre by the ocean is not the same as an acre in North Dakota, for a reason, so.

  • That's an interesting metaphor, I like that. Have to use that. I like that. So, okay, so what else, was anything else that you feel like piqued your interest?

  • I think again, hearing the interviews from people was really helpful. Of course, in the process of actually learning about the program and what it's for and being attentive to those desires was really of interest, and this is all pre-sales type stuff, but I mean, you talk about, a lot about social proof, and I've been familiar with that term for quite a long time, but I think again, as artists, we don't think about that. We're just like, and this is one thing that actually really bugs me on social media is, I was following accounts on, let's see, art, like corporate art buyers, yeah, they're placing artwork in places, and then different artists that I kinda liked, but a lot of people were touting, oh, I'm in this gallery, I'm in this gallery, I'm in this gallery, and you're like, huh, okay, and often times, you don't, they don't, you don't even know who bought your art, right, 'cause the gallery owns that stuff. It's kinda like being on Etsy in a way. You can't, or Amazon, you can't really collect that information readily, and it removed, it sort of like stereotypes the artist, where they are removed from the actuality of their role, which is to understand and convey the value, versus just be like some creative savant in the corner.

  • Yup, yeah, it's super interesting, yeah, the whole, it's a whole other conversation, but the social media culture of artists broadly, it's a very interesting culture, how they all interact with each other and what they all do and they all kind of copy each other, but they're all doing things that don't really work.

  • Yeah, well I mean, you figure--

  • But at least they're in the herd, at least they're, you know.

  • Well, and it's like you talk about, you can do all these sort of busywork things that make you feel like you're actually making progress but you're really not, and I think, I don't know what the percentage is of artists who go to art school or not, formal art school, but the irony of of course going to a fine art school is you're all taught by the same teachers, and it's very I think common for, to come out and then your whole class is kind of copying each other to some degree.

  • A clone of, yeah, that's interesting, I hadn't thought about that, but I could see, at least to some degree, that potentially happening, yeah. Well, so we just got started working together. We've only been working together for about two months, but, so there's a lot more for us to do together and there's a lot more for you to learn, I know, but what are some of the wins that you've had so far, takeaways that you've had from working with us?

  • Yeah, I mean I'm certainly, I've had sales, which I hadn't before, even with my--

  • What was that like, how was it to get your first sale, high ticket sale? Yeah, so my first end-to-end sale was just, was awesome because it gave of course validity to what I'm doing, but it also showed that, okay, I understand the steps I went through to get this sale, versus, you know, a pigeon falling out of the sky, so that was really good, but I mean there's a number of things, so of course, in the course it goes heavy into mindset, and I think that's something that people underestimate, and because I was already on this sabbatical, right, I was already doing a lot of that work, so I was very much into something that was gonna flip me away from sorta the mainstream way of doing things and all this sort of corporate hierarchy stuff that I had just learned over the years and not really realized it, but the mindset work is really good. Again, the value work of understanding the problem you're actually solving for people, and that there, everyone has a problem that has some kinda monetary value to it, even if it's something that's hard to quantify but feels immense, it's still a value, right?

  • You're talking about the, all the exercise around packaging and positioning your offer and building the value into the offer, the art offer, that stuff?

  • Yeah, yeah, and understanding how to drill into their problem, and getting them to vocalize it as well. When people can actually vocalize their problem, and this is something I heard, I've heard on practice calls with people who didn't think twice about what I have to offer, and then of course actual live ones where they're like wow, I'm so glad you're getting me to vocalize these problems I have, which is a weird psychology. I think the other thing is just like, being the sort of guider, the owner of how you direct the cadence of contact and communication with people, and not being this sort of observer of that process but being a participant leader, and helping people. One of the statements I love that you have is that money's an echo of value, and that's not really how people are taught to think about their, what they have to offer. They're stuck in this sort of salaried mindset or this hourly mindset, and--

  • Or it's zero-sum where it's like, it's only like I win or you lose or you win and I lose, it's very transactional, but they don't see that the, the broader value of what they're bringing to somebody else.

  • Yeah, and so the, I think too how this is relationship-based selling at the end of the day, at least at this phase for me, and you think about why people invest in anything, and what, I was actually having this conversation with my dad where I was explaining to him sorta this process I'm doing of basically talking to people at as much scale as possible, but having meaningful conversations.

  • There's direction, there's intentionality behind those conversations.

  • Yeah, and I'm genuinely curious about, in my case, talking with people about their grief experiences and seeing if I can help, and, but I remember him kind of questioning that, and it's funny because he had gone out sometime last year and went and bought a brand new Mercedes off the showroom floor. Well, my dad is like Penny-Pinch McGee. He's not a type to do that, so when he came back, we were all like, what? Why would you do that? It's like an $80,000 car, you just went out and bought? And he's like, "Well, yeah, but you know, and," and I was questioning him on why he bought it, and ultimately it came down to, I'm like, "You have a relationship with Mercedes-Benz." And he's like, "Well," and he still was in denial, I'm like, "You've loved the status symbol of Mercedes-Benz "for like decades, "and to finally own a brand new Mercedes-Benz "made you feel good," and I was kinda psychoanalyzing his purchase, and he's like, "Huh, I guess, yeah, you're right," you know? So, and I was using that to convey him, like look, that's really what I'm doing is I'm helping solve a problem for people, and then elevate them to this different level, and I'm doing that through building relationships. I just, I don't have the marketing spend that Mercedes-Benz does, but, so I have to do it on my level, but nonetheless, that's, I'm like, you're buying everything on that premise, unless it's like toothpaste which I think might be something you throw out at some point, but that's a known quantity, you just know from the time you're two that you need toothpaste so your teeth don't fall out.

  • But what brand of toothpaste you pick.

  • Right, right, so.

  • It's still an emotional, it's a relationship that's built, and I'm so glad you brought this up, I need to do a better job of conveying this, but yeah, basically every sale is relational at some point, it's just most sales that the average consumer experience, that relationship was established when they were five or their parents had a relationship with the brand, and then because the parents bought it, they buy it too, and then we always, we rationalize it after the fact, like your dad might've said, it might not have been like, oh, it's a really safe car, or the Germans make great cars, that's the logic after the fact, trying to convince yourself that this was a good decision, you know?

  • Yeah, and the funnier thing about car purchases in a way is I think, people will go into a car dealership of a brand they like, and they can buy any, they'll be like, I don't really know what I want today, and then they walk out with a car, you're like, how do you go from not knowing what you want to walking away with a $30,000--

  • Having so much trust and comfort that you're gonna pull the trigger in that meeting, yeah.

  • Right, and so they of course put so much time and attention into all these different models and in a similar way, and I'm not trying to rabbit hole this, but in a similar way I was talking about that, I'm like, why don't we just have one car? It's like, we don't because they all serve a different purpose. And I think similar with artists, and artists should probably think about that as well. There are so many different artists and mentalities to what the art is and the purpose it's serving. Don't downgrade yourself, you just need to figure out what that is.

  • Yeah, this'll be the, let's make this the last part of the car metaphor, but this is kinda fun to talk about, I think to your point about all the different cars, it's like, it's just like how some people buy a car and there's almost like a subculture around it, like people identify with it. There's, women are, of a certain age are more likely to buy this car and men of a certain age buy that car, and I think that's the same thing as art is like, a lot of the problems you guys solve as artists are psychological or higher level, self-actualization problems, and they have to do with identity and values, and I know we talked about this all in the program, but it's just kinda cool to see how that continues to parallel with this car, car metaphor.

  • Well, okay, lemme just throw one more out there, okay, but it's very relevant, and I would argue a car is a rolling form of art to some degree. You think about how much time is put into concept cars and the body of the car, and where do you spend the majority of the time in the car? It's in the car, right?

  • You don't see it on the outside, you're inside.

  • You don't see it on the outside, which is the total irony of it. You fall in love with the outside, but you really don't engage with it much. You fall in love with the outside because of the way that people perceive you being inside of it, and again, I would say that art is some, to some degree that, because it's a, it becomes this conversation piece when people see it.

  • I love it. No, that's great, that's a great addition. So I wanna go back to the first sale just for a second too.

  • Yeah.

  • You mentioned something cool about how once you saw how to do an end-to-end, it didn't feel like a pigeon dropping out of the sky, and I just think that's worth restating, because to me personally, I'm so much more excited when you guys make your first sale and you feel like you know why it happened, it doesn't feel random, than if you make 10,000 a month or 20,000 a month, like that's cool too, but it's like, it's just so powerful 'cause it's, you become a different person because you feel like, oh, it's like learning how to fish. You know in perpetuity going forward, I can do this again, and I can just keep doing it. Does that resonate with you?

  • Yeah, for sure. I mean, it, like you were saying, that people I think often times, you're trying all these different things, and this would've been a problem with me, let's say the previous version of myself that had four different types of businesses going, if one of those took off, I probably damn well wouldn't have known why it even happened. I would've just been like well, I think I struck an oil well somewhere, but yeah, understanding the end-to-end process, and this is something else that I think appealed to me about what you were doing is that it was a process that I could follow and then repeat, and there wasn't a mysteriousness behind it, right? It wasn't like, yes, there's mental work, but it wasn't just like you somehow said, okay, go meditate in a room for 30 minutes and then put this out into the universe, and then people will start flocking to you, something kind of obscure like that, it was like no, there's actually a lot of hard work involved, but if you do the hard work and you do it enough, and then you keep track of it and all that kinda stuff, you're gonna see results, and I've just been like you know what, I'm gonna, screw everything I know, I'm just gonna be like Harry right now and just do all these things he's telling me to do, so yeah.

  • Were there any road bumps or, it wasn't just smooth sailing the whole time. Can you speak to any kind of hurdles or road bumps you hit?

  • Oh, for sure. Well, I mean, and you know, I've asked you a million questions about different things, but, so in this cadence of learning how to sort of open up the conversation with people, you're kind of figuring out, okay, well how am I engaging in chat with people, and what does that look like? And then, okay, okay, I just need to be bold and ask them to go to the next step. Well what does that look like?

  • I remember that, you were doing the quick chats, and you were like, great, none of my quick chats advance to studio sessions. And I just asked you, "How many of them did you ask to advance?" And you said, "None."

  • Yeah, and so, yeah, I'm having these great conversations with people and it was just like, they thought I was networking, and then the second I went to talking, just be like hey, I have an art offering for what we're talking about, would you like to learn more about it? And people are like yes, and I think the thing that tweaks people a lot is that, just the word sales, right? People think of sales and all sorts of things come up, but everyone's in sales to some degree, but you can approach it differently, and I think another thing I like here is you're just, you're helping solve a problem, and if they, if you're conveying the value you bring and you're conveying the solution well enough and understanding their problem, then it's so much less about, oh, I'm gonna sell you on this thing that you don't need. They'll just see the value of it.

  • Yep, yeah, people love to buy, if you just can create the conditions for them to see something to buy. They don't wanna get pushed into selling, being sold to. With, back to busting through and generating these leads and figuring out how to get the studio sessions, that's kinda what we call sales calls in, at Flywheel Lab, can you share, what sort of mindset shift did you make in order to kind of bust through and make, start making those asks?

  • Yeah, the ask for the studio session?

  • Yeah.

  • Yeah, I mean I think it was just no, okay, for one, I found that, at least in my space, people would just talk and talk and talk, so it's easy to just keep going back and forth, versus you're having such a good conversation, they want to learn more, and they wanna keep getting more of you, so you'll be like hey, you know, I'm happy to chat more, here's what it could be about because I have this kinda solution, do you wanna learn more about it? I think just asking, do you wanna learn more about this thing, and by doing--

  • That's a very nice, soft way of asking.

  • Yeah, and I have had people already be like no and yes, and that's totally fine, but I have had people, the people who've said no have offered to promote me, which is hilarious 'cause I'm like, well that's a cool downsell. I'm like, you wanna promote me, cool, 'cause they'll be like, I have an audience that would benefit from this, so it's not, I think--

  • So even in the moments when it doesn't go as well as it could, you can still, you're seeing how you can turn it into a win, and it's, yeah, that's cool.

  • Yeah, and I think there's, one of the things with quick chats is kind of figuring out, and you've mentioned this before, do I even wanna work with this person, 'cause that's a fair enough question, right? And so it's not just, oh, I'm barreling through this to get them onto the next call, there's really a--

  • It's not like an incantation or something. It's not some spell that you're casting. You really are trying to figure out, would this person be fun to work with, or.

  • Well yeah, and I certainly had an experience with that where I moved someone onto a studio session that it was like, we had the studio session and like 15 minutes into it, we're like, I don't think this makes sense to be on this. You know? But again, that person was like, just, I wanna learn more about you 'cause I wanna refer you because I think I have people, I know people who could benefit from this.

  • Benefit.

  • Yeah, just, and that's something I think, again, a lot of artists don't understand is that if you have a problem you're solving and other people are aware of that problem you're solving and how you do it, and they like it, it may not be good for them, 'cause part of it's a timing thing, right, but then they know people who they might refer you. Some people might say that as just a throwaway offer, they may not ever do it which is fine, but other people may actually be serious, and you don't wanna, you just wanna assume they're gonna go promote you all over the place and that kinda thing.

  • Yeah, it's interesting, I think, to me, I look at that as an angle on having more and more of an abundance mindset. When we have the abundance mindset, it's, we look at every conversation as an opportunity to either talk to a potential lead or get referred to somebody, and it's not like we're just so sales hungry we're constantly on business mode, but it's just, you know foundationally that there's so many people out there that you could potentially help, it's like you can just relax and rest easy, and I think you're starting to see that empirically from all these conversations and stuff, if that makes sense.

  • Yeah, and, well that's the thing I would say too is, in the software world, people, and a lot of other corporate business bases, people get obsessed with like, what's your TAM? What's your total adjustable market? And you do all this kinda research to go okay, well we can, our size of prize is $500 billion or whatever the case is, and I don't think you necessarily have to do that specific of an exercise as an artist, but if you know what your problem is, it's, and you have a very specific audience, it's not hard to go, oh, there's a lot of people who need this, and where are they hanging out, right? And I think that's--

  • Are you getting a feel yet of how you actually bring people into the market sometimes, like you actually shape them up and turn them into a lead? Have you gotten a feel of that yet?

  • Yes, yeah. You want me to tell you? No, I just bring it up 'cause I think, what I don't like about the whole TAM idea is that it assumes that there's this fixed thing or it's this trend that's bigger than you that you can't influence, but the reality is the best people actually grow their market. That's why I always say, leads are not found, they're made. And this is what I, you can kinda see, hand to hand, that's what you guys are doing every single time you talk to people and get them going, is like you're massaging them and working them into becoming a lead that's a perfect fit for what you do.

  • Yeah, and well I think when we're going through the thesis creation, the offer creation, part of the sort of way you're positioning your offer is like, do people know that your solution exists, or are you kind of like a variant of what's out there? How are, you know, the toothpaste example, well if I come out with a new toothpaste, people know that they need toothpaste. What makes my toothpaste different? Versus, if toothpaste didn't exist and I have this new thing, and that kind of really changes I think how you approach it to some degree, so in my niche, this, people wanna do something outside of a, an urn or maybe they don't have an urn, they just have a tombstone to go visit, they look for jewelry, that's pretty common, sometimes glass, but that's kind of it. Maybe some people do tattoos, but that's very niche as well, and so when they see my profile and because of the way I've messaged in, I just have people comment out of the gates, hey, I love what work you're doing, they're just immediately attracted to it and they'll say something about it, and so that gives a seed of conversation immediately to go, just have a proper reply to that. Before, I didn't really have that. My different profiles said different things and again, I think a lot of artists will be like, oh, I'm an abstract artist. Big whoop-de-doo, you know? So you don't say you're solving any necessary, any problem.

  • You're, yeah, a lot of artists to date, their messaging is about themselves, and it's not necessarily about either a group of people they wanna serve or a set of values they see in the world or a desire they wanna meet or any of that stuff, so nah, this is all good, so we've done 7,600 in sales so far, that's fantastic. Anything else? Any other ways that you feel like your life personally or professionally improved, maybe more intangibly than that?

  • I mean, yeah, so I'm married and I have three kids, and so there's, with my wife, we've had actually a lot more conversation just around the way you approach life and sorta what you want out of life, and is life this fixed thing or not? It's the whole fixed and growth mentality type of deal, so my wife and I talk about that stuff all the time and I'll challenge her with what I'm learning, and sometimes they're uncomfortable challenges, right? 'Cause people are just all kinda different in where they are and how they wanna change, but I can certainly see as my kids grow older and I have more, I mean my oldest is eight now, having more conversations around being in that growth mindset and going after what they want, being entrepreneurial, and I don't really sit them down and talk about conveying value and you know, but I mean there are some of those I think opportunities that'll come up, and I will say this too, just friends, right? Friends and acquaintances. I just talked to someone the other day who, I did a post on LinkedIn, and I don't so much on LinkedIn anymore, but I'll do specific, sell them specific ones and there's this guy I've been talking to, and guy, since college, and even in college, we hardly talked, but we knew each other kind of, and we just, he was like, I invited him to talk and we got into entrepreneurialism and different mentalities and kinda lo and behold, actually, this guy had a kinda really deep grief experience that still he's dealing with, and he's like, "I love this," and I sent him more info and we'll probably have a follow-up conversation, but yeah.

  • That's cool, it's like, I think you sharing that story, you're sharing how you didn't really go into that looking at that to be a sales opportunity or a lead, that wasn't it, but it's like, you feel more equipped to just reconnect with people or build more relationships and more quickly deepen connections with people because of the stuff you've been working on, is that what you were saying?

  • Oh, 100%, yeah. I think it actually just makes you more intrinsically interesting too, in life, like you think about, you go to a restaurant or a networking thing and people go, oh, what do you do? And I remember being like, "Oh, I work at this tech company," you know, and you just, you feel very much like another koi fish in a Japanese pond, and I'm like no, I wanna be like a marlin in that environment. I just, I want it to be, but I can help people too, and that's the other thing is I think having something to kinda differentiate you in the sense of, I'm not just someone that might have an interesting sort of discovered occupation, but I actually may be able to help you, and maybe it's not even now, but it's at some point. At some point, you might remember this conversation and go, who do I know that deals with this kind of thing? Well I know this person, I know Preston, right?

  • That's awesome. That's so cool. Well good, well I know we're just getting started, but do you feel like you've gotten a return on your investment? You feel like you will over time get a return?

  • Yeah, absolutely, yeah.

  • Awesome. And going back to when you spoke with, I think you spoke with Thierry, why did you decide to do business with us? Do you remember, on that conversation?

  • Yeah, I think he was really attentative to what I was trying to accomplish, and yeah, just the listening, repeating back what, in a way that like, hey, we can actually solve this for you. If I, I don't think if I wasn't in the right mindset it would've made a lot of sense, but I think he saw that I was, and yeah, it just, it made sense, yeah.

  • Was there anything that you feel like kinda kicked you over the fence?

  • I think certainly the group, the access to the group. I think the training's really good, and once you go through that and you can go through different parts again and whatnot, but I mean this is such an active thing, and to, if it was just a course, that might be different.

  • It wouldn't work.

  • Yeah, well yeah, I mean you, like we've talked about, I've had sort of countless times now where I'm just like, oh, I'm at this roadblock, or this or this or this, and to have a community is great. I mean, I'm not even that far into it, but I've had a, I have had quite a few revelations in a short period of time, and now other people are starting and I'm able to help them out, and we're just able to talk and build a rapport, and that's also what I want too, 'cause a lot of, I think, us artists feel alone in this world, and you're, you have to have some carefully guarded secret about what you're doing and doesn't have to be that way.

  • That's that scarcity, zero-sum mentality, it's like there's only a certain number of collectors so if I help you, you're gonna help my collector from me or whatever it is, yeah. Yeah, no.

  • Right, right.

  • Have you had a chance to do some accountability buddy sessions and meet some of the other artists in the program?

  • Yeah, yeah, absolutely, I mean we've, I've done meet and greets, done practice, done, yeah, both of those quite a bit, and I have another one coming up here tomorrow, and--

  • That's so awesome, man, I'm really glad to hear that 'cause I feel like, yeah, for anybody who's in the program right now and struggling, it's like, the folks who jump in and start doing the practice quick chats, the practice sales calls, they're the ones who really just start taking off, 'cause it's, we all do, speak English, but there is something to practicing an intentional conversation. It's humbling, but you get so much better so quickly if you just put some practice in.

  • Yeah, and I think there's, people underestimate the, especially if you're introverted and you're not, it's not your natural way of operating to go and seek out people to chat with, and you're gonna come across people that do have different levels of dedication. Not everyone who joins this program or any program is gonna be 100% on follow-through as well, but I think if you continue to put yourself out there and talk with people, I've met a lot of great people so far, and that is kinda the, I think a huge key of it. You have to be able to break out of your shell, and I'm an extrovert, and there are still things that I'm like, okay, well I'm working through this muscle that has atrophied to nothing, and I have to build it back up, but man, if you can lean on people more and more and more, I think it builds so much more good will with other artists as well, so that as you do need to lean on other artists you can do that, versus, again, feeling alone, and it's the confidence thing. We all need confidence boosts and breakthroughs, and that's really hard to do if you're just sitting in a room, yeah, yeah.

  • On an island. Yeah, no, I'm so glad to hear that, so yeah, definitely keep setting up those sessions, that's awesome. So would you recommend others work with us?

  • Yeah, absolutely. I think if you're dedicated and you're willing to get after it, you can see some really great results, in a short period of time too, and in the long run.

  • Yeah, do you feel like, maybe expand on that. What sorta artist do you think we're especially a good fit for?

  • I think artists who are ready to try something that is not the mainstream way of thinking. That's not to say you have to abandon it entirely, especially if you have already good placement in galleries or something like that, but it's sort of like diversifying what works for you, and as we are kinda, internet continues to change and stuff like that, and wherever your locality is, and I don't think it matter style. It doesn't matter style, it's just, I would be hard pressed to find probably a lot, most artists out there, if you're kinda listening to this and you've only ever valued yourself based on the size of the painting, then you could benefit from this tremendously. And even then, maybe your niche is screwed up and you don't really know how to change it.

  • Yeah, no, totally, yeah, I think that's right. I think it's, we can work with a lot of different types of artists. It's not really subject-specific, it's much more about attitude and mindset and just being open to trying things and being a bit out of your comfort zone. We'll never push you so far into the deep end that you're drowning, but yeah, it's definitely gonna be a challenge, but if you can just stick with it and stay positive, it's like, you will get the results, it's just a matter of, you have to just stick with it and keep going, you know?

  • Yeah, yeah, certainly.

  • So why should someone listening take action right now?

  • Well it's the whole, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, definition of insanity. I'd certainly say if you've been approaching the same thing for a while now, the same approach to your art practice and you're just not seeing the results that you want, the longer you don't do something, you're leaving that much more opportunity and money on the table, and the ability to affect that, impact that many more people's lives in a positive way, so yeah, definitely, today is the day to do it, right?

  • And so with that in mind, what do you think is, what's your number one piece of advice for artists that're out there?

  • Be willing to challenge all of your pre-supposed ideas about how art and why are is bought.

  • I like that a lot, yeah. There are so many things and it's, I'm happy to handle them, but it's so interesting how again and again, people come in with these same belief systems, and I can tell it's all coming from the art world, but it's like, for somebody like me who's outside the art world, I'm like, why is everything by square inch? That's the classic one. Right, yeah, and that, I think a lot of that is coming, again, from, it's like, ah, we're selling paintings a lot. We don't know why.

  • Inches of canvas covered in an arrangement of paint. It's like, yeah, you, there's so much more value to that than just that kind of one-dimensional way of looking at things, so I think you're right on the money there, so Preston, this has been so great. Let's talk, what's happening in the next three months for you? What do you have in mind? What's your vision for the next couple months?

  • Yeah. I'm gonna get to 15K in sales a month, and then I'm gonna have a documentary coming out, but it's, yeah, really just a matter of, I'm gonna be talking to more and more people in the space and refining my processes. That's kinda the main few.

  • Building those muscles.

  • Yeah, building those muscles and yeah, but I mean, those are the real two main things, yeah.

  • Excellent, excellent, so if someone wants to learn more about you and hear more, where can they find you online?

  • Yeah, Instagram is probably the best place, just @PrestonZeller, and then I am on Facebook as well, if you wanna learn more about this film, it's TheArtofGrievingFilm.com, and I do talk on podcasts regularly as well, grief-oriented podcasts, and so there's quite a bit more if you wanna hear more about my story, but yeah, go to those places and just start a conversation with me.

  • Awesome, man. Good stuff, well hey, Preston, I'm really, really happy for you, very proud of all the work you've done, and I just can't wait to see what you do in the next couple of months.

  • Sounds good, thanks Harry, and thanks for creating your course.

  • Thanks man, cheers. Bye.

  • Yep.

Check out more blog resources

From blog videos to productivity tools, student interviews and livestream Q&A's. Here you'll find resources that help you start and grow a wildly profitable art practice.

Ready to earn more from your art?First, see how it works.Then, apply to see if you qualify.